Monday marks the beginning of Georgia’s new fiscal year, when over 115 new state laws will take effect. Among the new laws are is one requiring more stringent regulations for pain management clinics.
Georgia has experienced a greater number of prescription pain medication overdoses and adverse drug occurrences in recent years.
In the past few years, Georgia has faced an epidemic of prescription medication overdoses. This is due in part to the rise of pain management clinics that readily provide patients with prescriptions for pain medications such as oxycodone, a highly addictive substance. These “pill mills” offer patients pain medications with little to no review of what other medications the patient is taking and the potentially adverse drug interactions that may result from a variety of combinations. These facilities also often fail to consider whether the patient being prescribed pain medications is dealing with a drug dependency.
Georgia pain management clinics face increasing scrutiny from federal and state authorities.
Over the course of the last year, Georgia based pain management clinics have been the subject of both federal and state investigations. For example, last July, agents from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) raided Southern Health Management in Tucker, Georgia twice in the span of three weeks, and charged one of the physicians there with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
Georgia pain management clinics have also faced medical malpractice lawsuits.
In addition, pain management clinics have been subject to medical malpractice lawsuits. In April, the widow of a patient who died of a drug overdose while receiving treatment at a pain clinic in Brunswick, Georgia sued the facility for medical malpractice and wrongful death. The court awarded her over $30 million.
New legislation seeks to enhance regulation of pain management clinics.
In response, Attorney General Sam Olens sponsored legislation targeting pain management clinics that prescribe pain medications to patients without sufficient review of the patients’ medical history. Ownership of pain management clinics is now limited to state licensed physicians or hospitals, and pain management clinics will have to go through a licensing process. In addition, pain management clinics are now subject to new record keeping requirements.
Although the legislation passed overwhelmingly, it was not without any opposition. For instance, Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine recognized that there is a prescription abuse epidemic in Georgia. He expressed worry, however, that passing the legislation sponsored by Olens would lead to overregulation and drive the issue underground. He fears that this would increase the street value of prescription drugs and lead to a rise in criminal activity.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an overdose or adverse drug reaction, or if your loved one has been killed as a result of an overdose or adverse drug reaction after being treated at a pain management clinic, contact an attorney immediately. An attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and determine whether medical negligence was at play. If this is the case, your attorney will be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve.